Joanna Simon, Acclaimed Singer, TV Correspondent, Dies at 85
NEW YORK (AP) — Joanna Simon, an acclaimed mezzo-soprano, Emmy-winning television correspondent and one of three singing Simon sisters that includes pop star Carly, has died at 85.
Simon, the oldest of four children, died on Wednesday, just a day before her sister Lucy died, according to Lucy’s daughter, Julie Simon. Ella’s brother Peter de Ella, a photographer, died in 2018 at age 71. All three had cancer.
“In the last 2 days, I have been by my mother and my aunt, Joanna’s side, and I have seen them pass into the other world. I really can’t wrap my head around this,” Julie wrote on Facebook.
Joanna Simon, who died of thyroid cancer, rose to fame in the world of opera and as a concert performer in the 1960s. She was a frequent guest on television talk shows. After retiring from singing, she became an arts correspondent for PBS’s “MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour,” where she won an Emmy in 1991 for reporting on mental illness and creativity.
“It fills me with sadness to talk about the passing of Joanna and Lucy Simon. His loss will be long and disturbing. As sad as this day is, it is impossible to mourn them without celebrating the incredible lives they have lived,” Carly Simon said in a statement on Saturday.
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She added: “We were three sisters who didn’t just take turns blazing trails and marking courses for each other. We were each other’s secret parts. The co-guardians of each other’s memories.”
Joanna Simon was married to novelist and journalist Gerald Walker from 1976 until his death in 2004. She was the partner of Walter Cronkite from 2005 until his death in 2009.
On stage, he made his professional debut in 1962 as Cherubino in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at the New York City Opera. That year, he won the Marian Anderson Award for Promising Young Singers. Simon took a variety of material. As a concert performer, he leaned toward classical and contemporary songs of his time.
The brothers were born to publishing giant Richard Simon and his wife, Andrea. Carly and Lucy once performed as the Simon Sisters, opening for other acts in Greenwich Village folk clubs.
“I have no words to explain the feeling of suddenly being the only direct child left of Richard and Andrea Simon,” said Carly Simon. “They touched everyone they knew and those of us they left behind will be lucky and honored to carry their memories forward.”